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Entry updated 9 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Videogame (2001). Bungie Studios. Platforms: Mac, PS2, Win.

Oni is a third person fighting game (see Videogames) with the narrative structure and world design of a linearly plotted First Person Shooter. This unique combination of forms works well in principle, but the game's urban environments, based on real-world architecture, seem overly repetitive and are arguably poorly designed for gameplay. The game is set in a twenty-first century heavily influenced by Ghost in the Shell (1995) and other sf Anime. In this Future History, a totalitarian global government dominates a world in which the air outside the domed cities has been rendered toxic by ecological collapse. Within the domes, the poor have become increasingly desperate, while the rich live in the future that everyone wanted. The player character, Konoko, is a biologically enhanced woman who is an operative for the paramilitary Technological Crimes Task Force; her story within the game is dark and emotionally intense. After the death of an Android doll to whom she is neurally and emotionally linked, Konoko discovers that when she was a child she was implanted with a "Daodan Chrysalis", a symbiote which evolves to alter and improve her body, allowing her to survive outside the cities. Having learned this, the player is forced to become a rogue agent. Eventually it emerges that Konoko's brother, who has also been implanted with a Chrysalis, intends to fill their dome with toxic air, forcing the population to pay him for implants of their own. Konoko can stop him, but only at the price of destroying the city's atmospheric converters, meaning that the population will still be forced to choose between adaptation to the Chrysalis and death. Oni combines an intriguing linear narrative with somewhat less interesting gameplay (see Interactive Narrative). Nevertheless, the martial-arts-based combat mechanics work well, and the game's fictional world offers an excellent homage to its source material. [NT]


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